7 days of Moodle tasks: Be ready for the new year

Allison Miller, eWorks Accredited ConsultantAllison Miller is a member of eWorks’ team of accredited consultants, and a regular contributor to eWorks’ blog. Here Allison encourages us to consider what we should be doing to ensure that our Moodle courses are ready for 2016. Don’t worry, just one task per day for seven days and you will be set!

A smooth transition into 2016

When I was a child, there were a number of activities that my family always did to prepare for the end of year celebrations. Decorating the tree, hanging up stockings, being nice rather than naughty, and so on. Similarly, as an adult, there are things that I need to get done in my workplace before going on leave. Right about now I’m sure you know the feeling! These activities include cleaning and clearing up so that I am ready for the new year, and this tidying applies to my Moodle courses as much as anything else. Follow these seven days of Moodle tasks to ensure that you’re ready for the new year:

On the first day of Moodle tasks: Request and review student feedback through Moodle Survey

Every cohort of students is unique and different, so it is always important to ask for feedback from your students about their learning experience. Moodle Survey has a number of surveys that you can use to evaluate your students’ learning experiences and to help you reflect on whether the course design or your training and assessment approach could do with any further tweaking.

On the second day of Moodle tasks: Remind students to keep copies of their Moodle work

One thing I learned very quickly about being an online student was that once the subject finished the online course closed, preventing me from accessing my work in the future. This included posts to discussion forums, in wikis and glossaries and so on. To ensure I had access to my work after the course closed, I would copy and paste it into a Word document and save it somewhere safe. So, why not give your students the gift of this wisdom by encouraging them to do the same. You can share this wisdom through a post in the Moodle ‘News’ discussion forum as everyone receives these posts.

On the third day of Moodle tasks: Send students an end-of-year greeting through Moodle Messaging

All students like to feel that they are important to their teacher. This is especially important for online students, who might not have met their online teachers and tutors face-to-face. Take a little time to send your students a Christmas or end-of-year greeting through Moodle Messages. Sending this message makes it more personalised, as each student receives an email message from you. You can easily send all of your students a message through the Moodle ‘Participants’ block, but try to be creative in your approach. As Moodle Messages does not have a WYSIWYG editor, source some text art such as this image below, and copy and paste it into Moodle Messages, along with your Christmas greeting.

ascii star

Credit: ASCII Text Art

On the fourth day of Moodle tasks: Back up your Moodle courses

It is good practice to regularly back up your Moodle course, even if your organisation does a system-wide nightly back-up. This is because your organisation is very unlikely to roll back the whole system back up if something minor has gone wrong in your course. Backing up your Moodle course takes less than 30 seconds, and you should always download the backed up file and save it to another location outside of your Moodle course.

On the fifth day of Moodle tasks: Reset your Moodle courses

Resetting your Moodle course means restoring it back to its original format before any students start working in the course. The end of the year is a good time to reset your Moodle course so that you start 2016 with a clean slate. You can always access your 2015 students’ work by restoring the backup you did on the fourth day of Moodle tasks, so always ensure you do a back-up before doing the reset. Like the back-up, this process is quick and easy.

On the sixth day of Moodle tasks: Ensure your Moodle course is up to date

Content can quickly go out of date due to legislative, regulatory and industry changes and updates. Links to external websites or to internally housed documents can easily become broken links. Staff details and contact information can also change. Spend a little time reviewing your Moodle course content, links and staff profiles to ensure they are up to date.

On the seventh day of Moodle tasks: Make a Moodle course maintenance wish list

Like content, technology changes rapidly. With the release of Windows 10, any Articulate Storyline 1 embedded files in your Moodle course are now not able to be viewed. Similarly Adobe Flash, which previously allowed interactive content to be developed, is no longer supported by Adobe and has never been viewable on an Apple iOS device. Interactive content should be developed using HTML5. So on the seventh day of Moodle tasks, make a wish list of technical improvements for your Moodle course and log a job with your ICT support so your 2016 students have a seamless user experience in your Moodle course when they start in the new year.

And a partridge in a pear tree!

Now that you have completed your seven days of Moodle tasks you are ready for a well-earned break. Have a safe, restorative and fun holiday season, knowing that you are organised and ready to go in 2016.